Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Social Response to Marihuana Use - THE NON-LEGAL INSTITUTIONS

US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Table of Contents
I. Marihuana and the Problem of Marihuana
Origins of the Marihuana Problem
The Need for Perspective
Formulating Marihuana Policy
The Report
II. Marihuana Use and Its Effects
The Marihuana User
Profiles of Users
Becoming a Marihuana User
Becoming a Multidrug User
Effects of Marihuana on the User
Effects Related to Pattern Use
Immediate Drug Effects
ShortTerm Effects
Long Term Effects
Very Long Term Effects
III. Social Impact of Marihuana Use
IV. Social Response to Marihuana Use
V. Marihuana and Social Policy
Drugs in a Free Society
A Social Control Policy for Marihuana
Implementing the Discouragement Policy
A Final Comment
Ancillary Recommendations
Legal and Law Enforcement Recommendations
Medical Recommendations
Other Recommendations
Letter of Transmittal
Members and Staff
History of Marihuana Use: Medical and Intoxicant
II. Biological Effects of Marihuana
Botanical and Chemical Considerations
Factors Influencing Psychopharmacological Effect
Acute Effects of Marihuana (Delta 9 THC)
Effects of Short-Term or Subacute Use
Effects of Long-Term Cannabis Use
Investigations of Very Heavy Very Long-Term Cannabis Users
III. Marihuana and Public Safety
Marihuana and Crime
Marihuana and Driving
Marihuana - Public Health and Welfare
Assessment of Perceived Risks
Preventive Public Health Concerns
Marihuana and the Dominant Social Order
The World of Youth
Why Society Feels Threatened
The Changing Social Scene
Problems in Assessing the Effects of Marihuana
Marihuana and Violence
Marihuana and (Non-Violent) Crime
Summary and Conclusions: Marihuana and Crime
Marihuana and Driving
History of Marihuana Legislation
History of Alcohol Prohibition
History of Tobacco Regulation
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The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Chapter IV

social response to marihuana use


Law enforcement authorities, given available and prospective resources, cannot possibly enforce the existing marihuana laws fully. The best they can do is keel) marihuana use contained and out of sight. In addition, many officials within the criminal justice system are reluctant to enforce the marihuana laws, being either uncommitted to the usefulness of this particular law or opposed to the law itself. The net result is for the legal system to leave much of the responsibility for social control to other social institutions such as family, schools, churches, and the medical profession. Since these other institutions themselves have relied heavily on the legal system for control, caution and confusion now dominate the social response to marihuana use.

The diminishing severity of the law enforcement response may not have occurred if the other institutions of society had continued to regard the marihuana user as a criminal. However, many of these institutions have come to view the marihuana user primarily in social or medical terms, and to recommend a form of social control in accord with their respective self-interests or orientations. In many cases, the ,attitudes of these other institutions mirror that of the criminal justice system: uncertainty about the proper role of formal legal control.

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